Why has Vladimir Putin caused the Russian invasion of Ukraine? He speaks of security needs and NATO infringement. President Biden says that he acts out of ambition and a desire to reestablish the Soviet empire. Both could be factors, but I think his underlying reason is fear. Not fear of NATO, the U.S. or the EU or any other nation. What he fears most is the Russian people.

Putin is an old school despot. A graduate of the East German debacle, he tried once to set up a puppet in Ukraine, in order to insulate Russia, but his effort failed. Now he is willing to run any risk necessary to keep from having a free, independent and prosperous Ukraine on the Russian border — where the Russian people can see, hear, touch and taste what freedom is like, often in their own language and from their own relatives.

Putin saw firsthand the result of having West Berlin in view of subjugated people. He doesn’t dare trust that type long-term infection on his own border.

If he succeeds in Ukraine, can Finland be far behind? What then of the Baltic States?

Perhaps he is haunted by the specter of photos created, ironically, by fellow communists, of an earlier despot in 1945 in the streets of Milan.

Thomas W. Brown